The packaging and processing community came together this week for perhaps the most important PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO in its history, according to show producer PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies. Over 23,000 attendees, eager to find solutions to current challenges, engaged with over 1,500 exhibitors across four expansive halls and more than 740,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space at the Las Vegas Convention Center. It serves as the largest trade show in the U.S. in 2021 so far.
“In a word, PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO was a success,” said Jim Pittas, president and CEO, PMMI. “Exhibitors and attendees alike were energized by the number of people who attended and more importantly the business conducted from the moment we opened the doors on Monday.”
As PMMI’s State of the Industry report highlights, 2020 was a record year for packaging machinery, with the total size of the market in the U.S. increasing to $12.3 billion, growing 14.4 percent. In the case of domestic shipments, 14.7 percent growth reached $9.4 billion, reported Jorge Izquierdo, vice president, market development PMMI during Monday’s media briefing. This record year, led to the industry’s readiness to come together to see the latest innovations in person.
Matt Jones, vice president of sales for Dorner, could not have been more pleased with the traffic and leads that he found in his booth, indicating pent-up demand from the industry.
“We had a lead goal for all of day one that we achieved by the mid-point of that day, and by late morning of day two, we were already past our expected lead total for the entire show,” says Jones. “Just a great all-around event for Dorner.”
Jonathon Titterton, CEO of Coesia Americas and R.A Jones, was also eager to put his stamp of approval on this year’s event as one of the best he could recall.
“Coesia had even more leads at this show and more all-around quality engagement with attendees than the last PACK EXPO Las Vegas in 2019,” Titterton says.
While attendees buying machinery right off the show floor is not an everyday occurrence, it happens at trade shows, and PACK EXPO Las Vegas reported multiple examples of attendees eager to take the equipment home with them. Spee-Dee Packaging reported a bidding war over a piece of their machinery among multiple attendees, and President and CEO, Dave Navin, left Las Vegas pleased with the event.
“Speaking for Spee-Dee, we had a great PACK EXPO Las Vegas. Everyone who visited our booth was looking for an actual solution or machine rather than just gathering information,” says Navin.
Jake Garvey, director of OEM sales from Garvey Corporation, has attended PACK EXPO shows almost since birth for the family-run conveyor company. In all his years attending the show, he thought he had seen it all, but PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO provided a first-time experience.
“We will need to bring a new display machine to PACK EXPO East. For the first time that I can recall, we sold our machine directly off the show floor,” Garvey says.
Rocky Marquis, president and CEO of Marq Packaging noted that the show exceeded his expectations. He counted PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO as one of the better shows among the dozens he has exhibited at.
“It was obvious from the traffic in the aisles that this was a well-attended show, but what stood out to me from day one was the number of people who came into our booths with projects they already had ready to go,” says Marquis.
Attendees were also pleased to see all the solutions on display at PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO, with Nathan Heidrick from Amy’s Kitchen coming as a first-timer looking for automation solutions.
“We came here to see what equipment is out there right now,” says Heidrick. “We currently do a lot of manual packaging, and due to labor shortages, we [are happy] to [find solutions] to now automate our end of line systems.”
Other attendees appreciated the innovations, and the opportunity to network with peers.
“PACK EXPO Las Vegas is the show that I heard I could find all types of packaging solutions for products, and it delivered,” says John Murphy, facilities engineer, Fello Cannabis. “It has been great to discover new innovations, the latest trends and networking opportunities in such a comprehensive packaging event.”
The most outstanding innovations on the show floor received Technology Excellence Awards on Tuesday afternoon, voted on by show attendees. The winners of the 2021 awards were Canovation in the Food and Beverage and Personal Care/Pharmaceuticals category for its CanReseal; P.E. Labellers in General Packaging for Simpl-Cut and Hiperbaric for General Processing for its HPP In-Bulk Technology.
Kevin Christiansen from Café Barnabas tea company noted that the First Timer’s attendee lounge provided a perfect blueprint for his week.
“I have never seen a show like this before; what a wonderful experience,” says Christiansen. “The First Timer’s Lounge was like a mentor program for anyone who has never been to the show before. It really helped me in particular with a plan to attack the show.”
Daniel Finnegan, senior packaging engineer from TFH Petcare/Nylabone, was very pleased with the sustainable solutions he was able to find at PACK EXPO Las Vegas.
“I came here looking for two things: one being more sustainable packaging for our preform bags and secondly looking for new stretch wrappers and palletizers,” Finnegan says.
Chance Chaffin, production coordinator, Heritage Distilling Co. came to PACK EXPO Las Vegas looking for packaging machinery but was surprised and overcome with all the additional opportunities the show provided.
“I came to PACK EXPO Las Vegas to find new packaging machinery for my distillery company and what I encountered was so much more. Between PACK to the Future, Innovation Stage sessions and networking, I learned much more than I expected in a way you can’t do online,” notes Chaffin. “With such a massive show, there’s nothing you can’t find at PACK EXPO.”
As Chaffin indicates, PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO was more than just a packaging and processing equipment show, with over 80 free educational sessions. Hungry for new information, attendees took advantage of the opportunities at the Forum, PACK to the Future and Innovation Stages throughout the show floor. Many accessed digital showrooms and select show content online via PACK EXPO Xpress, which debuted this year to extend the show’s reach beyond the convention center’s walls. All registered show attendees can continue to access PACK EXPO Xpress until Nov. 19.
The return of The Processing Zone was particularly well received by attendees and exhibitors.
“We saw great foot traffic over the course of the show with most attendees being qualified candidates with decision making power,” said Roberto Peregrina, director, Hiparbaric USA. “Those who traveled to be here came prepared and conducted research beforehand in order to be intentional with their time spent at the show.”
Thousands of attendees flocked to the North Hall to take a journey through the evolution of packaging and processing at PACK to the Future. The curated exhibit included 26 historic packaging machines dating from the late 1890s. The machinery was surrounded by imagery supplied by CPGs, museums and others such as Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg, Hormel, Anheuser-Busch and Merck.
A highlight of the show’s second day came early when nearly 500 industry professionals gathered for the Packaging and Processing Women’s Leadership Network (PPWLN) breakfast. Keynote speaker Tracey Noonan, co-founder and CEO of Wicked Good Cupcakes, reflected on her experience scaling an e-commerce business and managing a growing workforce. Then she was joined by Yolanda Malone, vice president of global RD Foods at PepsiCo, and PPWLN co-chairs Jan Tharp, president and CEO, Bumble Bee Seafood Company and Sharron Gilbert, president and CEO of Septimatech Group Inc., for a candid conversation about the new world of work and what it means to the future of manufacturing.
“We would like to thank PMMI’s Board of Directors, our membership, exhibitors and all attendees who supported PACK EXPO Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging EXPO and made this show a success,” says Laura Thompson, VP trade shows, PMMI.
PMMI heads east for the next event in the PACK EXPO portfolio of trade shows, with registration officially open for PACK EXPO East (March 21-23, 2022; Pennsylvania Convention Center). Now in its fifth edition, the three-day event returns to Philadelphia after a record-breaking PACK EXPO East 2020 that featured 7,100-plus attendees and its largest show floor to date. For more information, visit packexpoeast.com, and for all show related information visit packexpo.com.